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Shanahan Addresses the 49ers' Lack of Player Leadership

A players have to play like A players.

The 49ers have no dogs on their team.

That was Jerry Rice's assessment after watching the 49ers get humiliated at home by the Arizona Cardinals junior varsity team this past Sunday, and Steve Young agreed with the assessment. Young defined "dogs" as the players who propel the team forward. The leaders.

“There’s nothing wrong individually,” Young said on KNBR in San Francisco. “Great talent, great people, all that stuff. But as a group, as a collective, they’re missing that thing that pulls everyone.”

On Thursday, head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked about the 49ers' lack of leadership. He seemed to think the 49ers issue isn't the leadership of his best players, it's their performance that's the problem.

Here's what Shanahan said.

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SHANAHAN: "All those guys got to play better to. It's not just, we don't have the right guy yelling at guys and saying, ‘this can't be tolerated.’ I mean, that sounds good and all for everyone, but those are just words. It's got to be with actions and not just wanting to do it, but performing at a high level. So when you have those guys that can hold people accountable, they also better be doing their job at a high level too. And I look less about who's going to get all these guys going to play their best. That's our job as coaches, as players, to try their best, to work their hardest, to get as healthy as they can for practice all the way up to Sunday and perform as good as you possibly can. And that's what you have to do as individuals. And you push everyone as a team, your team pushes each other and then your whole team rises together. I think it's very rare that you have one guy in that way. I get what you're saying, but that's usually not what answers it. It's a guy playing the right way, leading by example, doing it the right way, performing. And then we can all hold accountability and try to get a certain standard for every single player.”

Q: So, you’re saying your best players have to be the leaders?

SHANAHAN: “Your best players got to play like, I say this to our team a lot, your A players got to play like A players every week. What I used to hear when I was younger is any coach can get a C player to play like a B player, I believe. But really good coaches get A players to play like A players every week. And that's how you push guys.”

Q: Is that an issue?

SHANAHAN: “Yeah, I think our A players can play more like A players. I think we've been missing some of them too. And I think we need to get them to, and that starts with me.”